A new attraction has come to the Brainerd lakes area in the form of a nearly two-hour zipline tour of Mount Ski Gull.
The ziplines at Mount Ski Gull are designed to take advantage of what owner Lee Kerfoot calls “15-mile views” of the surrounding forest, lakes and nearby towns. These views are part of the tour part of Kerfoot’s business.
Kerfoot incorporated the 2015 summer storm damage into his tours. Because Kerfoot began working with Mount Ski Gull approximately two and a half years ago, the storm had a lasting impact on his designs.
“When the storm came through last summer it knocked down a ton of trees,” Kerfoot said. “The first issue was, we were going to use some of the trees to zip into with platforms. Once they were gone we tried figuring out what to do. We could still do towers. The builder reassured us the towers would still work well.”
Kerfoot worked with the Department of Natural Resources, which wanted to clear some storm damage to mitigate fire hazards, and found a compromise. Now, what remains of the storm damage serves as a part of the tour. The regrowth of the forest will likewise be a part of the history that visitors can witness from as much as 75 feet above the ground.
Kerfoot’s zipline attraction is made up of six stretches, one of them over 950 feet long. The attraction is interactive, so riders use gloved hands to control the direction they look and to slow their speed as they advance from platform to platform. It’s not complicated. Visitors as young as 10 are welcome, so long as they are between 70 and 250 pounds.
This location, which opened May 1, is only one zipline attraction Kerfoot’s family owns. His father owns Minnesota’s first zipline canopy tour at the Gunflint Trail where he grew up, and in 2013 he started his own in Henderson, Minn.
Kerfoot said his family owns Minnesota’s three biggest zipline adventure attractions. He chose Mount Ski Gull due to its spot in the middle of some of the Brainerd lakes area’s biggest attractions.
“As we’ve learned more about the zipline industry and looked across the country, the closer they are to large populations or large tourist markets,” Kerfoot said. “They can do well if they are a good experience, built right and a good staff.”
The Mount Ski Gull location has a few very specific attractions not available to other Minnesota Zipline Adventure locations.
“I think there are two or three things to really remember,” Kerfoot said. “Having visited the land for 2.5 years, one thing I feel like steals the show are the views. Those are 15-mile views and they are spectacular views. A lot of time in the Brainerd lakes area you don’t have that elevation. For me that is always something I love.
“Another view people are going to like is when you are in the white pine trees. You have great views but you just got done on a bridge that is really high on the adventure factor and you have a long, 950-foot zip in front of you. I think people will remember that. I think the last attribute people will remember is the free fall experience,” he said.
The entire zipline tour ends with a controlled drop with a harness line that feels briefly like a free fall of 45 feet. It is a drop that is sure to be remembered.
In addition to offering a zipline experience, Minnesota Zip Line Adventures at Mount Ski Gull sells food and beverages and rents GoPro cameras.